Kenyan Angela Wamai among the African screenwriters selected for the AuthenticA Series Lab

Four young African screenwriters from Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have been selected for the AuthenticA Series Lab. The screenwriting training initiative is a partnership between the Realness Institute, The Storyboard Collective and Series Mania. The laboratory should start at the end of September.

After a selection process in which writers had to submit their original story ideas for an episodic series. The four participants announced are Angela Wamai (Kenya), Chantel Clark (South Africa), Jessica Hagan (Ghana) and Tony Sebastian Ukpo (Nigeria).

Participants will follow a six-month TV series lab to develop their stories, under the mentorship of Story Expert, Selina Ukwuoma, and Creative Producer, Mehret Mandefro. “The four selected entrants all have a range of ideas and approaches for their episodic series, which will make it a dynamic and creative laboratory.” says Realness executive director Elias Ribeiro. The program, designed by Ribeiro, also offers opportunities for dialogue with a host of industry experts.

Kenyan Angela Wamai studied cinema in Havana, Cuba, and works as an editor in Nairobi. She has written several short films and recently completed her first feature film Shimoni (The Pit) which she wrote, directed and edited. She was recently awarded Best Film Editor by the Women in Film Awards-Kenya.

Director and screenwriter, Chantel Clark graduated with honors in television drama (UCT) and holds an MFA from Columbia University’s film program. Her screenplay for her first feature film as a director, Wit Gesigte (Pale Faces), has been selected for several development labs, including the Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab. Her MFA thesis film, Our Albertinia, has screened at over 25 international film festivals. She is currently an ambassador for Girls in Film South Africa.

Accra-based Ghanaian-British writer Jessica Hagan enjoys exploring themes of identity, displacement and misogynoir in her work. His first piece Queens of Sheba has won numerous awards over the years. It played to sold out houses in its 4 weeks to 4 and 5 star reviews across the board at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival and continues to enjoy sold out seasons in the UK. In 2023, Queens of Sheba will have a 3-week run at the Public Theater in New York.

Nigerian filmmaker and photographer based in France, Tony Sebastian Ukpo, trained at the London Film School (LFS), before which he had already explored various creative ventures in theatre, graphic novels and photography, as well as film. He has written and directed an eclectic range of films, including Paris 60japanese murder mystery Random 11 with Haruka Abe, British Nollywood romantic comedy Mom, dad, this is Sam with Joseph Benjamin and the immigration drama Simana, among others.

“StoryBoard seeks to promote independent African episodic content. We seek to support powerful, authentic and unapologetic voices. We understand that these stories need to start with good stories; these four screenwriters certainly succeeded. Now it’s up to AuthenticA to support them throughout the residency and ultimately Series Mania to do everything we can to bring these brilliant stories to national, regional and international screens,” says David Rimer, Founder of The Storyboard Collective.

To launch the program, the four participants will begin the Lab with an eight-day residency in South Africa in September. This will be followed by a few months of mentoring, meetings and online support, culminating in a 10-week residency in Switzerland in 2023. The outcome of the lab is to support and mentor each participant in the delivery of a pilot scenario , a pitch deck and a professional pitch that they will present at the Series Mania Forum 2023, while attending meetings with international decision-makers.